The First Step Is Admitting the Problem

Let us fervently hope this is not merely giving lipservice to an idea he thinks a disillusioned and alienated base wants to hear, but an authentic self-reflection that will result in fundamental stylistic changes over the next two years:
President Obama tells "60 Minutes" correspondent Steve Kroft that one of the reasons the electorate has become disenchanted with him was his failure to properly explain his policies and persuade people to agree with them.

..."You know, I think that over the course of two years we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that leadership isn't just legislation. That it's a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. And making an argument that people can understand. And I think that we haven't always been successful at that," Obama replied.

"And I take personal responsibility for that. And it's something that I've got to examine carefully as I go forward. You know, now I will say that when it comes to some of my supporters, some of my Democratic supporters who express some frustration," the president added.
Yes, that's right: Leadership really isn't just legislation. It is about laying narrative groundwork for legislation, about branding legislation simply and boldly, about selling it and standing behind it. All of those are things the administration needs to do better.

But there's a piece here that Obama is still missing: Leadership is also listening.

Not just "persuading people" and "making an argument that people can understand." But listening to what they have to say, so that you pursue the legislation they want in the first place, and so you don't fall into the trap (over and over and fucking over) of assuming that a lack of support is axiomatically down to people being too goddamned stupid to understand your sophisticated and awesome legislation.

Sometimes people fail to support you because they do understand the legislation and don't like it.

And there's still no evidence that reality is penetrating the rampart of arrogance that has been built around this White House.

Because they still aren't listening.

Great leaders listen. Hard.

Obama's a great talker, but he's a terrible listener. And he still doesn't even seem to realize that's a problem. He'll never be a great leader until he does.

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